JHB speaks

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, speaks to The Reflector in January.

Following her re-election in November, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has been pushing bills designed to help infants and child care, environmental issues and a few with specific benefits to North County. The Reflector has compiled highlights of the congresswoman’s work in the 116th iteration of the governing body.

Child Care

Child Care has been a major focus of Herrera Beutler’s efforts this year, as she has championed five bills with her sponsorship, one of which is already signed into law.

One of the bills Herrera Beutler championed would provide grants for childcare facilities that met specific requirements. H.R. 1488, dubbed the “Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act,” was introduced in March with Herrera Beutler as the first co-sponsor. 

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor and though it has yet to come up for a vote, it has seen some more Representatives sign on, most recently three Democrats on June 13. Herrera Beutler is the only Republican to have sponsored the legislation as of press deadline.

Another bill, H.R. 2507, would continue federal support of state-run newborn screening programs to detect potential health issues shortly after birth. The resolution re-authorizes the “Newborn Screening Saves Lives” act first passed in 2008 and is currently in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce committee.

H.R. 1985 is currently in the House Ways and Means committee. The bill would double the amount of money families can save pre-tax in “Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts” to pay for things outside of the usual K-12 school day such as before- and after-school programs, daycare and preschool.

H.R. 2271, the “Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act,” has Herrera Beutler as one of the first co-sponsors. The bill would give grants to governments or nonprofits to help with investigations into “Sudden Unexpected Infant Death” of which Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is included in.

One piece of child-related legislation Herrera Beutler has been pushing already has President Trump’s signature. The “Advocating Care for Exceptional Kids Act,” has been included in H.R. 1839, the “Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019.” Previously the congresswoman has explained the legislation will allow families of “medically complex” children — such as those with cancer, congenital heart issues or Down syndrome — greater ability to access “high quality, specialized care” even if they had to cross state lines. 

Environment

Protection of salmon remains a focus of Herrera Beutler’s work in Congress. As part of the “Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act” for 2020 she has helped to secure $55 million in total to help the fish’s populations — $30 million directed toward the Pacific Salmon Treaty which provides a framework for managing salmon stock, and $25 million to Mitchell Act hatchery activities which help to fund facilities benefitting salmon stocks.

Herrera Beutler’s work doesn’t stop at the mouth of the Columbia as she was one of the first to co-sponsor the “Ocean Acidification Innovation Act,” H.R. 1921. The bill would allow federal agencies to designate existing funds toward “competitions” that would incentivize research, monitoring and management of ocean acidification, according to a release from Herrera Beutler’s office. The bill has passed the House and currently sits in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Herrera Beutler re-introduced this year the “Oil and Flammable Material Rail Transportation Safety Act,” H.R. 851. The bill would reinstate safety guidelines from the U.S. Department of Transportation revoked last year that mandate the installation of electronically-controlled brakes on trains carrying flammable liquids such as oil. The bill currently sits in the  House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

Locally-minded bills

Though the importance of salmon and children no doubt affect North County residents, some work of Herrera Beutler’s was more tailored to the region. Last month she announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had directed more than $5 million toward constructing a new community and nature center at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

The money, a part of the Fiscal Year 2019 deferred maintenance account, would be used to build a new multi-purpose facility to replace the current refuge office trailer and four other buildings at the site, according to a release from Herrera Beutler’s office.

The Congresswoman also saw her efforts to get funding for rural districts paid out. In May she praised the decision by the U.S. Forest Service to pay out funds withheld from the federal “Secure Rural Schools” program that benefits school districts by providing funds that make up for the shortfall from declining timber sales on federal lands which historically had been an important funding source for rural schools.

Those feeling the crunch of housing costs might be thanking Herrera Beutler if one bill makes it to the president’s desk. H.R. 3211 was introduced last week with the congresswoman as one of two initially co-sponsoring the legislation brought forth by California Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat. The bill would establish a task force of experts in fields related to housing, recommending policy and evaluating the effects a lack of affordable housing has on citizens as well as government budgets.

Other bills’ roundup

Herrera Beutler has been a part of a number of other pieces of legislation:

• H.R. 383, which would ensure those with preexisting conditions could maintain their health care coverage even if the Affordable Care Act is overturned.

• H.R. 299, which would expand home loan fee waivers to active duty service members in the military who have received the Purple Heart.

• H.R. 3034, which would allow military reserve medical officers to serve past the currently-mandatory retirement age of 68 if a need is determined.

• H.R. 2501, which would require private insurance and federal health programs to cover “medically necessary nutrition” for individuals benefiting from those plans.

• H.R. 1733, which would allow the use of federal funds for grants to develop technology-focused apprenticeship programs.

 

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